Croatia’s hopes of reaching the knockout rounds at the FIFA World Cup remain intact after they eliminated 10-man Cameroon 4-0 in Manaus.
A brace from star striker Mario Mandzukic and goals from veteran Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic inspired Croatia to an emphatic victory in their second Group A clash at the Arena Amazonia in Brazil on Wednesday – the first ever meeting between the two countries.
Olic made the breakthrough 10 minutes into the first half, before team-mate Perisic sealed all three points following a brilliant solo run shortly after the break.
Mandzukic added some gloss to the score line in the 60th and 73rd minutes as Croatia won their first World Cup match since 2002, having lost three and drawn two.
Niko Kovac’s men have now collected three points from two games and are one point adrift of Mexico, who are level on points with host nation Brazil heading into their final group game, while Cameroon remain winless and out of contention.
Attempting to respond from their defeat to Mexico, Cameroon coach Volker Finke was forced into a change up front, with captain Samuel Eto’o ruled out due to an on-going knee injury. Defender Cedric Djeugoue also made way for Joel Matip.
Croatia made three changes to the team that lost to Brazil last week. Mandzukic returned from suspension and he was joined in the line up by Danijel Pranjic and Sammir as Nikica Jelavic, Sime Vrsaljko and Mateo Kovacic dropped out.